I haven’t commented much lately as I’m generally bogged down with the minutia of keeping AMG Consolidated, Amalgamated Industries, Ltd. moving and shaking. However, recent developments put a sizable burr in my saddle that requires some therapeutic venting from yours truly.

Even casual readers know I have a deep, abiding appreciation for all things Jørn Lande. I celebrate the man’s entire catalog (with some key caveats), and if nothing else, I think whatever he puts out deserves a fair shake and a thoughtful review. You might have noticed however that his recent album Life on Death Road got nary a mention here. The simple reason for this is the way Jørn’s label, Frontiers Records, decided to distribute promo to us. Where we generally receive a downloadable promo for review purposes, Frontiers in all their wisdom recently adopted a stream-only policy for their releases.

There are several reasons why this doesn’t work for us. The first is that it anchors a reviewer to his/her PC or laptop, making the listening and digesting of music way less portable and accessible. Since the AMG staff all work for a living, we must listen to our assigned albums whenever we can, like while commuting, working, doing hot yoga and Lord knows what else. With stream-only promos, this becomes much less practical and workable.

The more insidious issue is the way the streams are sent to us. We have a designated email for promos, and for security and organizational purposes, only AMG’s upper management has access to the promo bin. These streaming promos can only be opened by the party they’re sent to and we can’t forward them to another staffer for review. This renders them all but useless unless a member of management is tasked with reviewing all such stream-only releases. Now, Frontiers is happy to forward a downloadable copy on the day of release, but by then we missed the proper review window and won’t be able to get anything posted for days thereafter.

While I have promo access and could have streamed the new Jørn album for a review, I decided not to on principle, as Frontiers is making our life difficult for no good reason. Until they change their stream-only policy, we will not be reviewing or otherwise covering Frontiers Records releases and artists. AMG has grown to be one of the bigger metal review sites out there and we draw a lot of eyes daily; more so every year. Frontiers definitely benefits from our coverage of their releases, be they glowing, middling or bad, as any press is good press. As it stands now, they need us more than we need them and thus, the ball is in their court going forward.

We’ve had issues with promo distribution in the past and we’ve complained about the way certain labels treated us before, and Frontiers is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. The bigger concern is more labels adopting a stream-only policy1. This would make our job increasingly difficult, unwieldy and over time could force us to consider hanging up the angryness and calling it a day. That wouldn’t benefit anyone, least of all the readers who want albums covered in a fair, evenhanded way and enjoy what we do here at AMG.

We’ve always taken pains to maintain strict promo security and no leak has ever come from AMG. We also take our role in the musical food chain seriously and do our best to cover the scene we love in a fair way. If the labels don’t cooperate, we simply cannot do our job properly. Here’s hoping common sense prevails and we can once again be a Jørn-fortified blogworks and friendly neighborhood metal emporium.

Show 1 footnote

  1. As I was writing this we were informed that Spinefarm Records is also instituting a stream-only promo policy.
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  • Jukka Alanen

    This is just sad. Good policy on your part, screw them! Keep up the good Angry.

  • GardensTale

    I do most of my listening and writing while commuting. I’d be permanently locked out if stream only became the way to go. I’m having way too much fun to throw in the towel, even when I have to review things like Invidia or Insatia (something is wrong with with In…ia bands…). Labels, don’t be dipshits please.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I like how for security and organizational purposes, only AMG’s upper management has access to the promo bin. I also like how Steely D got his parrots in a bunch about not being able to review Jørn’s latest because of label’s shenanigans.

  • madhare

    Because music industry people tend to be idiots here’s a flowchart of how things work for me.

    Find music on AMG –> Available on Bandcamp –> Immediate purchase, often opting to pay some extra because of respect towards the artist and, shit, the whole purchase process was just so much fun!

    Find music on AMG –> Not available on Bandcamp –> *pause* –> Available somewhere else online? –> *pause* –> Possible purchase if the shop is reasonable (like iTunes is out of the question because of A. their stupid country restricted payment system, and A. their policy of “actually legally you only rent stuff from us, you never own it”) –> Pay whatever minimum you can (maybe just buy couple of songs instead of the album)

    Find music on AMG –> It’s only available as physical copies or can’t be found in any reasonable web store –> *pause* –> EITHER forget the whole thing OR if it’s interesting enough get it for free somewhere (I will still mentally classify it as a less interesting thing anyway)

    Music not featured on AMG –> You could just as well make and release your music on Uranus, I will never hear about it.

    Hell, AMG makes me even purchase music that I don’t actually have time to listen! I’ve noticed this lately. I get exited about the music because of the review, buy it immediately, listen to it once, and then two weeks later go like “oh yeah I should listen to that again”. And still I feel good about the whole thing. :D

    • Strapping Old Fart

      ITunes can kindly **** my ****. And I hate buying from some store that offers only 320 somethingrate mp3s, because in a couple years they’ll be back kindly offering me to buy the same music again in flac format. That old CD/vinyl scam all over again, just when I thought I finally got one over on them.

    • Marc Rikmenspoel

      That’s basically my experience. If I’m interested, I head to Bandcamp. If it isn’t there, my interest wanes, at least a bit. But like many others, I find new music via AMG, NCS, and BC. But also, I follow some Youtube black metal posters who make new albums known. Once I buy a download on BC, I save it to my desktop computer, and also put it on the 64GB micro SD card I keep in my tablet (to play through PowerAmp). This way, I can listen to what I want, when I want, with no streaming or data usage. (BTW, you can find me as Speelie on BC, Rate Your Music, and The Brave Board)

  • I.B. Hurtin

    Is there a sound quality aspect of this as well? Are the labels able to stream the content in the same format and quality as you would be able to download?

    • The quality of steams is usually pretty rough. Some have limited listens too, so if you are replaying an album for review, you only have a set number of plays per song.

      • Grymm

        I should have read this before answering another post with pretty much everything you just said.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        The last Darkthrone, thankfully, allowed unlimited listens. But the quality sucked my ass. That was a rough album to get through because I couldn’t hear shit.


        Like streaming into the void.


      Generally streams are either 128kb/s or 64kb/s, which are about as crappy as you can get. Bandcamp and Spotify are both 128.

      • Mauro Bossetti

        Spotify at 128? Nope. It goes up to 320 and it is as good as loseless for 99% of ears, although this is totally out of topic here.

  • I totally understand where AMG is coming from.. but, I take it the record labels are doing this.. not to be dicks.. but to try and cut down on album leaks that hurt album sales.

    I wonder if there is a happy middle ground.. like a mobile platform or app, so reviewers could stream from their phone? So you could still listen in the car or however?

    • Grymm

      The biggest problem with this is usually a stream has considerably worse sound than a standard promo.

      Also, hiccups during streams are very much a thing.

    • Having worked both sides of the label intern/lowly reviewer divide, it’s a hamfisted solution to a real problem. I’ve spent entire days at a label filing DMCA complaints.

    • Ralph Plug

      I believe that people who are going to download an album are still going to do so. It’s a non-solution to a real problem.

  • rumour_control

    From experience, I definitely feel the pain. If I am preparing food for someone whose opinion is valid to me, I do not want said someone to get food that has been shit in, so why shit in the sonic soup? That is life’s critical question at play here: “Why you shit in my food?”

  • Dagoth_RAC

    A stream-only review process, locked down to certain users, with poor sound quality, and limited listening opportunities due to needing a solid, reliable internet connection throughout listening session? That is horrible. I will agree with that 1000%.

    However, I have always wondered about the “review before release” standard at AMG. Maybe I am alone in this, but I have never cared for it. Because what inevitably happens is, “Oh! This is cool. I should buy this!”. But then most of the time, it is not out yet. So, it becomes, “Oh. I need to remember to buy that when it finally comes out in a week or two.” By which point 487,223 more metal albums have been reviewed and/or released. And now that album gets lost in the shuffle.

    Is this just me? I would actually prefer reviews come out a little after release. So that when I get all excited about something, I can fulfill my modern need for instant gratification and purchase it immediately.

    Is there a pressing business or logistical need to review before release that I am overlooking? Does it hurt site traffic? Do a lot of people see reviews of already-released albums as “stale” and just skip them? Do labels want to see pre-release reviews in the hopes of charging up first day sales numbers?

    You folks seem to know what you are doing and I do not expect you to change the policy. I am just curious.

    • rumour_control

      “Is there a pressing business or logistical need to review before release that I am overlooking?” Yes. “Does it hurt site traffic?” It could if not reviewed in a timely fashion. “Do a lot of people see reviews of already-released albums as “stale” and just skip them?” No, it generally means the site/publication is either new, or unprofessional if the majority of the reviews are published after a release. Which begs the question: “Do labels want to see pre-release reviews in the hopes of charging up first day sales numbers?” Of course they do, as a review is written before a released product to encourage anticipation for a pending purchase, or amend that purchase idea all together.

    • We get bigger views when we published reviews prior to release (between 7-10 days out ideally).

      • Name’s Dalton

        And to think that when I ran a label, I would spend ungodly amounts of money, time and materials sending physical copies to publications big and small, in print and online. How foolish was I?

    • Lucas Lex DeJong

      I’ve gotten to the point where I will make a list on my phone of albums that arent out yet, but its still not ideal, as i often forget about them. Hell, Sivyj Yar released The Unmourned whatever in 2016 and i still havent picked it up because ot wasnt out when i read the review. Only just grabbed the new Disma EP yesterday.

      • WhamBamSam

        I keep a second Chrome window open with the bandcamp pages (or a song on youtube if the album isn’t on bandcamp) of albums I want to buy and refer back to that when making other music purchases. I also like buying multiple albums at once in general, as it keeps my rotation a bit more balanced between subgenres. It’s not a perfect system, and occasionally I’ll have an album slip through the cracks or go for longer than I intended without being purchased, but it generally works pretty well.

        • Drew Music

          That wishlist feature of Bandcamp is a pretty excellent way to keep track of the albums you wanna buy (on Bandcamp.) I still forget about releases I’d been excited for if I found them elsewhere (I keep a running memo going and it’s a beast) but the wishlist certainly helps tremendously.

          • [not a Dr]

            Or of albums you want to buy elsewhere. Sometimes, the CD will be cheaper if ordered through Amazon. I like to give money directly to the bands, but sometimes the deal is too good and my profound lack of principles wins against my part-time delusions about me trying to be a nice person.

          • Drew Music

            I hear that. Usually I’ll eat the markup and stick to my Bandcamp guns, but sometimes I gotta maximize the impact of my dollar and wander elsewhere.

      • Name’s Dalton

        I have a long list myself, but that was compiled before I started using Bandcamp. Bandcamp is awesome.

  • Maximos662

    Obviously not a reviewer, but I’ll throw in my 2 cents on streaming: I dislike it, for all of the reasons others have given. More than that, though, unless you’re streaming while seated at a computer, you’re going to be running up the data charges on your smartphone; and to my mind, this is a variation on the iTunes problem: Apple’s legalize implies that you never really own the material, but are only renting access to it under their terms and conditions, and in the case of streaming to my smartphone, that means that I’m paying to access something I already paid 10 bucks…. to access.

    Sure, economists, some tech people, and apologists for the business models of tech/telecom companies will spew some nonsense about different service providers, efficiency, platform synergies, and ‘progress’, and how it just ‘makes more sense’ to a) pay to put content into your cloud account, and b) pay regular fees to access that content. Meh. I’d rather pay once to acquire the content in question, whether by download or ripped from physical media, and then listen without any additional complication factors, technological or financial, in whatever circumstances it pleases me to listen to it, eg, walking my dog in a park where I cannot get good enough reception to stream something poor quality.

    I get that others, perhaps many, will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. To each metal fan, his/her own listening modalities. But in addition to the practicalities, this consideration clinches it for me: I don’t want to stream.

    • Bravo good sir! I actually pretty much only buy physical copies and rip them to my computer. I like owning *something* tangible. Additionally, I enjoy looking through a booklet . Usually, the first time I listen to an album I sit alone and listen while I have the booklet in my hands. It makes me feel all fuzzy in side. This has become more difficult now that I have three kids but that’s beside the point. I’ve only ever bought two albums on iTunes: Promise and Terror and Dead Man’s Party. I regret it but I cannot undo my mistake.

      On a side note, we bought a new house in August and had a fire in October. After getting the kids out of the house I was very worried about my CDs and my bass guitars. I am happy to report, they survived (all but one electric guitar, a 1973 Nova jazz guitar).

      • Strapping Old Fart

        God damn! Good you all survuved and the guitars too. Now I’m off to backup my collection some more.

        • You can never backup the collection enough. Do it now!

          • Strapping Old Fart

            How, though? On the computer? Will crash. External harddrive? Connects via mini USB cable that’s already on its way out. And will crash. Stupid DVDs? Stupid, and that format’s even more ephemeral. On some cloud service? Will go bankrupt, or decide to charge me more once they got me on the hook, or both. Better to go Kaiser Söze on their asses and burn all my shit already.

      • Maximos662

        Wow. Glad you all survived. We’ve never had a fire, but we’ve had several smoke alarm malfunctions, which tend to arrive at approximately 2:30 AM, as everyone is settling into the deepest phase of sleep. It’s terrifying.

        I backup my collection quasi-obsessively, but I had to learn the hard way – twice. Maybe seven or eight years ago, my computer suffered a catastrophic hard drive failure, and this necessitated spending almost an entire year re-ripping my entire music collection. Four or five years ago, the iTunes updates altered the program radically, so that the default option was to search for content on Apple’s cloud service, and not in, say, a designated file folder filled with music in the hard drive. After two lengthy and expensive customer support calls, which failed to resolve the problem permanently – iTunes would locate the correct folder only so long as it was kept open in a continuous session, and would revert to searching for the cloud upon restarting, leaving me with access to only a) a bonus track to an Epica album that I downloaded, and b) Bernard Haitink’s cycle of the Bruckner symphonies, which I downloaded because they were out of print, and only available used, from the same run of CDs I already had, likely to be both expensive and corrupt like mine. After a week of fighting this clear technological retrogression, I downupgraded to the last functional version of iTunes, which I use to this day. However, everything I acquire is backed up twice.

        I dread the eventual expiration of my collection of old-school, 160 GB iPod classics, as the touch models have neither the capacity nor the tolerance for connection to car stereos – they often go wonky in the middle of albums, and revert to playing their libraries of songs alphabetically, which is quite possibly the derpiest, least coherent way to listen to music.

        I generally prefer to own physical copies of my music, particularly if the physical copy is accompanied by the sort of things that I expect, like lyrics, some artwork, and perhaps even some liner notes provided by the band. If something is only available as a download, or is available on physical media, but in, shall we say, an unimpressive presentation, I’m okay with downloading. A CD in a cardboard sleeve, with neither decent art nor lyrics, is a poor sales job, from my perspective. The opposite end of the spectrum would be something like the artbook version of this year’s 1476 record, or the woodbox version of last year’s Opeth record.

        Best wishes for your family. I know what it’s like to try to find time for my hobbies with three kids in the house.

        • I ABSOLUTELY hate Apple. I, too, use the iPod classic. It is frightening to imagine a day without the iPod classic. My wife uses the Touch and even though she has the largest sized model (in terms of hard drive) it cannot fit anywhere near close to all 12,000+ songs in our collection. Everything going to the cloud sounds great in theory but I can imagine many scenarios in which it can be lost, corrupted, etc. and this is not acceptable.

          I never update iTunes for the exact reason you describe above. You are the second person I’ve heard from that experienced this horror story.

          Speaking as a musician (albeit currently on hiatus for the past 2 years), it was a very surreal feeling the first time I held my band’s CD in my hands. We ran our fingers across the them and turned them backwards and forwards, upwards and downwards, and were just ecstatic to have something encased in plastic wrap that we had recorded! I recognize some of the good qualities that digital music can have for an artist but that feeling really was something I will never forget.

          As for the fire, I used to be a baker for 9 years so I am never asleep early in the morning. I heard a noise in the basement (which is where all my CDs and music equipment as well as Warhammer collection were) and went downstairs to open the door to a wall of smoke. I have no idea how my CDs and music equipment survived. I wasn’t worried about my digital collection of ripped music because I knew I had it backed up but the CDs themselves have value in my mind. I lost most of the booklets but at least I have the CDs, which is especially important with the ones from local bands I’ve shared the stage with and like to remember fondly from time to time (or not fondly, depending on how poor their performance may have been!).

          • Maximos662

            I have over 30K songs in my collection, across multiple genres, and that’s only what I’ve ripped so far. I haven’t the slightest idea what I will do when either my iPods fail, or I finally get a new computer, the OS on which cannot run the antique version of iTunes I use. Apple’s cloud service holds many horror stories for people like me: consolidation of multiple variations of an album, jumbling of albums their algorithm associates, deletion of whole swathes of material on spurious IP grounds, etc.

            Memory capacity, unlike in the 90s, is cheap. There is no technological or cost barrier to a simple storage/playback device, with a segementable memory (ie., all the metal can be in one folder and menu, all the classical in another, etc.), and 1+ tb capacity.

          • I’ve had a few issues with Apples Cloud but for the most part it’s been a great way to store my music. I currently have 25000+ tracks on there with a full backup to Dropbox and all are available across every device I use – iPhone, Laptop and Surface Pro. I am running an older version of iTunes though as the most recent versions seem to crash. After a recent update I had to roll back to an earlier version… since then no issues. *Touch wood*

          • [not a Dr]

            I bought a WD MyBook Live duo.
            It’s a 4TB network attached storage device that houses 2 hard drives of 2TB each.
            You can (easily) configure it as either 4TB storage or 2TB mirrored storage. When you set it as mirrored, anything you store there gets saved in double. That way, if one of the 2 hard drives fail, you can change it and copy over from the mirror drive.
            You can map it as a network drive on pc or mac and there is an iOS and Android app to access its contents (and also connects to most cloud storage solutions, like dropbox and google drive).
            You can tell iTunes to put your music library there.
            You can also set autobackup of your computers (complete or only select folders) and mobile devices.
            And you can configure access from outside your home network.
            My PS3 plays music and movies from it.
            And you can also buy cloud backup for its contents.
            Awesome for your photo library too, as you can’t buy or rip those again…
            It cost me 400$ CAN 5 years ago (that must be like $200 US).
            There should be better, bigger, cheaper models nowadays.

          • h_f_m

            I have 2TB but in RAID1 for redundancy. If I lost my mp3 collection (I goes back to the mid-90’s at this point since I’ve been ripping my CD’s) I don’t know what I’d do.

            I think most of it is probably just available through my google music sub at this point. But some of it has some sentimental value since I’ve been collecting for 20+ years. (none of it pirated!)

            I still have most of my CD’s and some Vinyl. All my cassettes from the 80’s are gone though.

            And a fuck you to the guy that stole my Megaforce Kill ’em All and the CD of Kill ’em All with the 2 extra tracks.

          • [not a Dr]

            yeah. he can go fuck himself sideways.

  • hallowed

    I am quite shocked to find out there is a new Jorn album out.

  • Mollusc

    I know it’s a matter of principle, but could you play a stream on one device and record it to another via the headphone output? As Madhare stated below regarding Apple etc. there is a real lack of trust. People who love music will hand over their hard-earned cash for a great product. I’ve certainly bought loads of excellent albums I wouldn’t have looked at if it wasn’t for this site. Sorry that there are needless problems with this labour of love. Hope labels listen and sort it out.

  • CarvedInStone

    It’s a shame since the new Jorn album might be the best solo album (not counting the Dracula album since it seems to be mainly Trond Holter’s project as he is making a sequel without the Jornster) he has ever done.

    Is there a chance that you’ll might do a “Things you might have missed” review about it at the end of the year?

    • Not if there’s an embargo.

      • Drew Music

        Go you, man. I know you’re Jorning at the bit to turn that (ahem…) album into transcribed gold, but as the kids say, sticking to your values is what’s up yo.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I’ve been a bit subdued this year and not bought too much music, nonetheless I’ve still I’ve picked up a few and over the last 5 years or so I’ve bought a ton of albums based on the recommendation of the trusty brand of reliability and integrity… AMG.
    If you’re a label person reading this…

    • Damn straight, Skippy!

    • Thatguy

      Except if it’s power metal.

      • I don’t like this interaction.

        • Thatguy

          Jorn up and handle it.

  • El_Cuervo

    The value of my commuting time should not be understated when it comes to my listening, note-taking and writing process for my reviews. We here don’t make ANY money from what we do (we do it cos we’re bleeding hearts who fucking love it).

    I won’t make extra time to listen to your album. I’ll just not to listen to it at all if I can’t on the move.

    • Grymm

      Ditto to all of the above, plus I want to add that not all of us have unmimited data plans with our network/cell carriers to allow for streaming (fellow commuter here). If I have to not only inconvenience myself to hear your promo, but also PAY EXTRA MONEY to do so, then it ain’t happening.

      • Drew Music

        I walk everywhere and live in a land that time forgot, so if I’m getting an album in along the way I’m not running up my data for a stream that’ll break more frequently than the voices of tweens. The only way I could be talked into subjecting myself to that for the sake of a review would render a lot bands unable to look at mirrors or hotdogs for life.

        • Be careful, hotdogs for life could be amazing but it’d better be Vienna Beef. Hotdogs are not unlike heavy metal bands; there are a lot of shitty hotdogs out there.

          • Drew Music

            Unnecessarily dark as it was, I think you might have missed what was going down (on) in that implication.

          • Yes, I thought YOU would receive hotdogs for life! Forgive me, the way I interpreted it is something my kids would likely demand I’m a hostage situation.

          • Drew Music

            No need for forgiveness, homie, I rarely ever understand me.

  • Tom

    Totally agree here! Streams are a pain in the arse. As a writer and an editor, it creates problems for all concerned. In Australia, only a handful of people have access to these preview streaming platforms. Each label has their own one, with their own tedious approval process. Sometimes links don’t work, emails get lost, etc. etc. New writers walk away because of it. Someone like me isn’t going to review every god damn thing that pops up; ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially if I’m chained to my PC to do it.

    Streaming, on the main, sounds like dogshit too. I thought the latest Blind Guardian album sounded awful until I got a CD copy. So who knows how many albums are having points lopped off thanks to a codec the labels have no control over. Bravo to AMG to stand up against streaming!

  • John Mosley

    Get em’

  • I can wholeheartedly count at least 20 albums I bought entirely based on a review I read here. Maybe I would have discovered them eventually, maybe not.

    If the labels want to make things tough for you, then they lose my business and the business of many others.

    Thanks for standing up for your principles!

    • Name’s Dalton

      20 is a low number for me, and I’ve only been here a year or two.

      • I buy a lot of music, some of which is also reviewed here and I already had it, or had planned on buying it. My number of 20 is for albums that I had never heard of, or was otherwise unaware existed before reading about it here.

  • Drew Music

    How did we get to this point, anyway? I can remember when being able to save your music as .mp3’s was a new thing, and how awesome it was to be able to store all the music I already owned… That was such a godsend, as there wasn’t any real portability in having a massive library beforehand. That was all fine and dandy, except Limewire and Napster then introduced the realm of downloading music to this mortal coil, and then the floodgates opened. Which was also fucking amazing, except fast-forward a few years and suddenly I realized my music library was almost solely digital downloads, and at 6,000 tracks (a few years ago, I have less now but it’s more to me) you can bet that I had paid for almost none of it.
    I remember finding that in and of itself odd, but the real turning point was the accumulated experience of constantly hearing people tell me we couldn’t listen to a particular song – songs which these people claimed to love – because Maine is a living relic and streaming can be impossible in many places. I hated that: I might be a piece of shit for not parting with my monies for metals, but for better or worse I always had ‘my’ music on me.
    Finally, I reached this sweet-spot, where I discover bands online like everyone else then hunt for their vinyls and/or digital downloads. I’m still not above the occasional act of piracy, my argument is for possession after all and the interwebz will tempt anyone, but I certainly do not understand not having some kind of music collection that you can truly listen to anywhere regardless of streaming limitations. I mean fuck, why even have a music library if there are no tomes to pore over to the sounds of evil greatness?
    Anyway, I know that there are plenty among us who kept the faith and continued to expand their physical libraries as post Y2K rendered such thing obsolete, but it bums me out to no end that this is the direction music consumption is moving in.
    Whatever, I have plenty of batteries, someday I’ll be relevant again and the screengazers will have only silence to keep them company.

  • Lucas Lex DeJong

    I am at the point now where I almost exclusively get my new metal info from you guys, to the point where I am usually staggered and surprised when something i would enjoy passes me by, since you guys cover my personal spectrum of taste so thoroughly.

    So I often forget that you guys only review what you’re sent for promo, but I’m glad you guys have become successful enough that you can make a stand, and hopefully it will show. Keep up the good work guys, and thanks for all the albums you’ve led me to.

    • Drew Music

      Do you have a Bandcamp account? For years these guys and NCS were my only trusted sources for reliable, read-worthy reviews of bands I’d otherwise never discover; recently, digging through Bandcamp has become a kind of de facto supplemental source to round out an unholy trinity of educators for me, and I strongly recommend that route to anyone looking to discover previously unknown metal gems.

      • Lucas Lex DeJong

        I only regularly check bandcamp for Dungeon Synth, since its about the only (micro) genre I can actually view each release of. There’s no way I could cover any reasonable amount of new releases tagged “black metal” or such as they come out.

        Besides, as great as bandcamp is, there’s a lot of bands that arent on there.

        • Drew Music

          Well, now you’re just being greedy. It’s not *the* source, obviously there are plenty of bands that aren’t there, and Fenriz stands alone in knowing all things trve, but it is a source and an excellent one at that.

          • Lucas Lex DeJong

            “Well now you’re just being greedy.”

            I’m a millenial and I’ll get what I want when I want it for how much I want. And avocado toast.

          • Drew Music

            Proud of you.

          • Name’s Dalton

            Several of the writers (and readers) have Bandcamp accounts that are searchable.

          • Drew Music

            Yessir, I watch a few of y’all in hopes of scavenging metal goodness á la wishlists and purchase notifications. The dead teenage trumpeter in me would shudder at this phrase, but I fucking love Bandcamp.

      • Nag Dammit

        AMG, NCS and BC. The unholy triumvirate indeed. Spotify can do a reasonable job of recommending new stuff based on my listening history but it somehow makes me feel even more empty than pirating records. At least that enterprise had an element of braggadocio to it. Music streaming services just make me feel like I’m helping the record label line their pockets and taking money away from the bands, hence the guilt and subsequent Band camp purchases I guess. If more bands put their albums on Bandcamp, I’m sure they’d see an uptick in sales / cash, even if they put them on there for pay what you can.

        Anyway, it’s beyond me why a label would not want to send out a limited number of physical promo copies to trusted sites ahead of a release. Surely the security risk is worth taking? Where is the faith in others?

        • Drew Music

          I agree with everything here, particularly the ending bit about risk/trust. Bad things happen sometimes, it’s fucking life. This whole mindset of needing to cover every possible base in order to avoid losing a single cent is unrealistic and absolutely disgusting to me. I get it, it’s an industry doing industry things, but for fuck’s sake does everything need to be about the bottom line? How many earholes are you keeping the music from by taking such stringent measures in the name of something so futile as attempting to prevent leaks? And just how naive and greedy do you have to be in order to think you can prevent leaks of anything here in the digital wonderland of 2017? If leaks the likes of the whole Manning endeavor are able to occur, how fucking dumb do you have to be to think your own digital defensive protocol is unfuckwithable (and I’m not opining on that in any particular way, it’s just a reference point)?
          I hate people, so, so very much.

  • Malcolm in the Middle X

    Pathetic. Labels are a decade behind the curve. Metal is likely the only genre where enough fans still purchase a physical product, regardless of leaks. Labels can do absolutely nothing to force people into buying an album; that battle is long behind them.

    I’ve streamed & downloaded albums, later buying when I determined any of them to be worth owning. Sorry – no one has to put up with the bullshit of dropping dough for an album that may have one good song, if that.

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Before this decree came down from High Above, I simply avoided anything from the Frontiers label. First, the stream is inconvenient. If we’re reviewing your record, make it as easy as possible for us. But second, most of the Frontiers releases aren’t good enough to warrant such tight security. Aside from Jorn.

  • Ralph Plug

    Hear, hear.

    It’s about time someone spoke up about this publicly. This streaming business is sadly becoming the norm for labels, and one of the main reasons I stopped reviewing for a large Dutch e-zine a while ago. I kind of get it from a security point of view, but it still makes the job more of a hassle than it should be

    Also, these reviews are written by people who don’t get paid, who do everything in their spare time and, in the end, are an invaluable part of the media coverage you need to sell records. Why you should severely limit the means in which they do so is beyond me.

  • Nag Dammit

    This is a symptom of the world trying to save money and streamline processes in the name of progress. A bit like the government in my beloved Blighty. Where’s our heart gone? Where’s the soul? Where’s the desire for a label to show off their artists work in the best possible light? Progress is great when it gets rid of pointless shit like disease, suffering and hate. But when it stifles creativity and the people that support it then we’re going backwards in my view. Nag over.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    You know it’s bad when it makes Druhm not listen to Jorn!

  • Alpha

    So that’s why there are so few AOR reviews on this site.

  • Rina and Raven

    Just cheat. Record the stream, put the files on your favorite device, listen, write review and don’t leak. Maybe even delete the files after work is done if you think keeping them is unethical. But I think what’s unethical is sending crappy promos to reviewers, who work for free.
    There’s no way to prevent or detect copying. You can always capture sound with your soundboard, on hardware level. The worst thing about streams is that they are utterly useless.

    • [not a Dr]

      Isn’t there some Firefox plug-in that lets you save streams as mp3s?

  • Strapping Old Fart

    I pay for NYP records every week, because I dearly wish to keep those geniuses in guitar strings and cocaine. Meanwhile at the Frontier office: “Why isn’t this crap selling like it used to? Must be those pesky reviewers! “. I weep for the Jorn lovers, but I am really glad that the your staff won’t have to put up with this shit anymore. Torture them with crappy music, not crappy streams.

  • Thais Munk

    Hear hear! I love Angry Metal Guy. What music I buy come pretty much exclusively from this site. So I’m happy to read that you guys went with the Sepultura approach: Refuse/Resist!

  • Strapping Old Fart

    Is that an invisible watermelon or what?

  • James Utvandraren

    I don’t think Frontiers realize how much a review site, such as this one, matters when it comes to influencing people’s decision to buy or not to buy a new piece of music.

    I will readily admit that I have never had much need for a review site. I am a researcher. I will dive deep into the sea of white noise out there, stick my fingers in the murky bottom, sift through the nonsense and the garbage, and eventually break the surface with something interesting in my net. However, since I found you guys at AMG, I have started to entrust you with most of the diving-into-the-ether-process, leaving me solely with the decision making. You guys are doing a tremendous job, and Frontiers will be drawing the short stick in this scenario, and, by association, so will their roster of bands.

    (Having said that, I loved Jorn in a band scenario – Ark and the 1st Masterplan were awesome- but feel he is treading water as a solo artist. Yes, I cursed in church. Blasphemy.)

  • AnnieK13

    I rely on this site and a couple others to introduce me to music I would otherwise not be easily exposed to and it does influence my purchasing decisions… Labels are a bit foolish to overlook the importance of getting more exposure for new releases and should be catering to what makes it easier for reviewers.

  • Steel, I honestly don’t think the issue is streaming in itself. For example, let’s say Spotify offered all reviewers a free account (a reviewer’s account that the label setup for you) and you could on there anytime, from anywhere, and supports every conceivable mainstream platform in existence, to listen to a new album that isn’t available publicly yet 7-10 days before release for review.

    Could you honestly make the case that this is unreasonable for the majority of metal sites out there?

    I think the broader problem is that there are TOO MANY streaming platforms as an outgrowth of every label and/or band using their own PR company who in turns uses their own platform for review. Most of these platforms are terrible and don’t even have a mobile front-end which is critical given the way people consume music these days.

    I think the fixation on streaming in the above is a bit off the mark. I think stream-only policy can work if done properly.

    • [not a Dr]

      That still doesn’t solve the data plan issue…

      • I don’t really agree there is a data issue. Streams use very little of actual data. Unless you are literally on a pay-per-byte program (if one even exists), I find it VERY HARD to believe you will eat up your bytes that quickly. I use Spotify for instance every month daily and I barely crack a few hundred megs.

        • Grymm

          But there is also the issue of sound quality from the streams. There is a remarkable difference between a stream that sounds like sheer unwashed ass, and its downloadable counterpart that sounds much less unwashed.

          Also, not all of us have access to wi-fi on the buses or at work (i.e., me).

      • Disqus is acting up again…

        What data issue? I use Spotify every month on a daily basis and it hardly makes a dent (we are talking about a 10s of megs, maybe a few hundred if you choose to download everything for offline use). I just don’t see this is as a major problem.

        • [not a Dr]

          I can’t say I have experience with mobile streaming. The reviewers here seemed to say that it was an issue for them. Maybe they already max out their plans before they take review streams into account?
          And streaming only works where you get network.
          I usually carry 6 months worth of commute-listening music in my job-issued phone. However, I would be politely frowned upon with extreme prejudice if I were to use Her Majesty’s bandwidth to stream anything not work-related.

          • 802.11 is your friend!

          • [not a Dr]

            Yes, but that particular friend won’t follow me on the bus.

          • True, but it does follow you A LOT I suspect.

            Quick, look behind you!

  • Maximos662

    Until a friend tipped me off to this site, I would buy, maybe, 12-18 metal albums a year. It was laborious, sorting through the sort of material that gets reviewed on the major sites That Shall Not be Named, not being able to hear samples in many cases, and trying to divine whether I would actually want to listen to it more than once. I had it reduced to a couple dozen bands whose albums I would either buy upon release, (eg., I’m going to buy everything Opeth, Enslaved, Primordial, and Dream Theater release (despite the diminishing returns of late), or strongly consider buying (Megadeth – Endgame and Dystopia, yes; Super Collider, not so much; Iron Maiden – Book Souls, yes, but it’s still half an hour too long), plus the occasional flyer on something previously unknown to me (eg., how I ended up getting into Baroness with the Red Album).

    However, with the discovery of AMG, I realized that there are hundreds of great bands that labour away in relative obscurity, producing records that might sell in the hundreds, or low thousands, and far excel virtually everything that secures release on major labels and earns the hype of the industry as a whole. Ergo, in the past year and a half, I’ve probably purchased approximately 100 albums, which has pushed the limits of my budget for such things, necessitating a slowdown. But I realized, to my chagrin, that I had missed out on altogether too much great music.

    I went through long spells of not buying new metal in the 90s, because most lo-fi black metal didn’t speak to me, and most groove metal nauseated me, with the consequence that I missed lots of great stuff – because while old Mayhem didn’t do much for me, Emperor were awesome. When the urge returned in 2003, I discovered Opeth. If nothing else, with AMG, I’ll at least have a solid record of the stuff that’s out there, even if I’m not able to acquire all of it.

    • Yeah, I can’t justify buying 100 albums a year. I haven’t bought a Dream Theater album since Systematic Chaos but back in college they were in the must buy upon release category for me. Megadeth and Iron Maiden are automatics (since Maiden is both mine and my wife’s favorite and Megadeth is my wife’s second favorite). I really like Blaze Bayley’s solo work so he was always in my must buy category (plus it’s not like he’s selling millions of albums, he needs the sales to fund his project) but I was so out of the loop I missed out on The King of Metal (though from what I’ve been told I was fortunate in that case) and Infinite Entanglement. I did hear Endure and Survive as soon as it was released because I am now back in the loop.

      You touch on something very important, however. It is so crucial that we buy the music from these smaller bands because these are the musicians in danger of disappearing. My band was considering putting together one more album but the cost is so high that I cannot justify it at this point. I’m not saying that we necessarily deserved people buying our music but that is beside the point. I know how much it costs to do any sort of recording, either by paying to rent studio time or buying equipment yourself. Add on top of that the time factor and it’s really not a simple process. I say it’s definitely worth it on a personal level even if you only sell 400 copies of your album (a pain I know all too well) but it won’t cover your costs and I want to make sure people keep putting out great music, whether metal or other genre.

      • Also, I forgot to add, other than the phenomenal writing job done on this website and the entertaining comments I really love the inclusion of embedded tracks. That has turned me on to at least 12 bands I never would have heard of or given a listen to before I found this website. Thank you Angry Metal Humans!

  • mtlman1990

    I’ll be that guy… Screw Apple and Spotify. I download whole collections. If I love it, I buy physical versions that are available. If I like it and there is no physical version, Ill buy it digitally on Bandcamp just to help the artists.

  • Err… not to be that guy but… “minutia” should be the plural: “Minutiae”.

    • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

      Congrats Bud…you just became That Guy :)

  • Noobhammer

    I know exactly how you feel Druhm. When I was the metal director of WKNC a few years back, we received actual physical copies of albums which I could give to our DJs to review and put into the library (a physical library mind you, fill with glories harkening back to the golden eras), but in the last two years of my tenure, many of the major promoters i was in contact with (Relapse, Nuclear, and even 3rd party ones like Skateboard Marketing) began to shift over to a digital only promotion delivery, meaning getting those reviews to my people became a pain.

    This though is a whole ‘nother level of bullshit. I’m sorry that the shifts and paranoia of this industry are hampering you guys from continuing to do a stellar job of impartial reviews, which is hard to come by in this day and age of what is essentially payola, where if you don’t give a good review you don’t get a copy.

    Keep it up guys! mm/

  • h_f_m

    I pretty much only get my new music here as well. Though my first choice is my Google Music sub (I can just download music on WiFi for subway listening) and stream it at work as well. If I REALLY like the album I’ll head over to Bandcamp and see if I can purchase it there, if I strike out there i’ll purchase it on Google Music for good measure.

    If I purchase is I have a NAS on my network I store all my music on, I’m pretty anal about tagging, filenames and what not. I only buy full albums, I never buy tracks.

  • Asbestosdeaf

    “As it stands now, they need us more than we need them and thus, the ball is in their court going forward.”

    To write this is to very much fail to understand the position of the review blog in the musical foodchain and the tangible benefits it can obtain from an early promo copy of a record. Not only it’s arrogant on the writer’s part but the very fact they bothered to write this rant and have it published online points out to me that this relationship of dependence is not as one-sided as they would like to think.

    • I wouldn’t call it arrogant at all just pragmatic truth. Frontiers is a very niche label that specializes in AOR metal. We won’t lose readership by skipping their artists, but they will likely take some hit with the reduced coverage.

      And I have a good understanding of our role and how early promos benefit us. That’s why it would be a shame if bigger labels went the same route as Frontiers.